Secret Sister Cards

Pin It I pulled out my stamps the other day.  They had been put away for about 4 years.  I don't think I touched them while I was in school, and not while I was homeschooling my kids, and still not while I was without a craft room.  It's been ages.  I am so glad I didn't sell them!  (And so glad hubby didn't decide to when I was gone earlier in the year.  He decided to clean while he was alone at home, and cleaned everyone's stuff but his own. Insert "grrr" here.)


Our neighborhood women have swapped names to do a secret sister thing.  I usually am not really big on this kind of fluffy stuff.  Mostly because I tend to be a worry wart, OCD, or a total procrastinator.  But I came home from Omaha (Grandpa's funeral) to find a beautiful card with a sweet message in it waiting for me.  It was from my secret sister, and I had no idea what was going on!  But I learned it was a little activity planned by our Relief Society to let the women get to know someone a little better.  And by the time I found out what was going on my SS had already left me another cute gift.

I realized I was enjoying them, I mean really, how often do moms get these fun little surprises on their doorsteps?  So, I joined in and have a secret sister, and I can only hope I am as good as the lady who has my name.  She is stopping by weekly!  I can't do weekly, I am not on the ball enough.  But, I decided to make each gift meaningful.

So, first up- make three cute cards.  I can't shell out for the nice ones at the store.  I L.O.V.E. SendOutCards, but my name is on them, so I wouldn't be a very secret sister. I found some super cute paper at Hobby Lobby, and I decided I really needed to let my stamps get some fresh air! 

So, here are the three cards I made, and each will accompany a gift. (We are supposed to do one thing a month for 3 months.  So, my SS is definitely an over-achiever! I don't know how I got so lucky!)

This was the first card.  My secret sister loves to garden, so I got her a pair of gardening gloves and some glycerin hand lotion from Bath & Body Works. I still haven't come up with anything for the next two gifts.  But I still have plenty of time!

All stamps are from The Angel Company- which I just found out went out of business last year.  Makes me sad, I loved their stamps.


Organic Chapstick Activity Days

Pin It
 My first official activity since being called to be an Activity Day leader (well, this time around anyway), was hopefully a success.  The girls were bouncing off the walls, but that could have been related to it being almost summer, twenty 10 & 11 year olds in one room, or they really had fun.

We were covering Developing Talents #9 and here is the run down of what we did:

The requirement was to cover personal health, grooming (and modesty) and good nutrition.  So, I used my handy dandy For the Strength of Youth pamphlet to help with that.  It makes it super easy and you don't have to worry about anyone's opinion.  And anything that isn't covered you can just refer them back to their parents! So, I probably spent about 10 minutes going over the topics from FTSOY, asked a few questions, tried to keep it upbeat instead of scary or awkward.

To make it more than just a lecture on those things I combined it with two hands on activities.  I prepped three posters for them to make (you can print the file from the link below).  "Good Nutrition", "Good Health", and "Good Grooming and Modesty".  I used quotes from the booklet for them to attach to the poster, hoping they would read them as they glued.  And I gathered pictures from magazines (New Era's are great for modest girls, and I happened to get a Land's End catalog the day before the activity) that corresponded to the different topics on the posters.  I had them "fix" any modesty issues on clothing (cutting and pasting paper scraps to make sleeves), write "NO" on beer bottles (which I had to get a sports magazine for), things like that.  So in the end the posters were all about what we do or avoid.

I had the girls divided according to flavor choice for their chapstick, and I just took one group at a time into the kitchen to make the chapstick.  It took about 10 minutes per group.  They helped measure, grate the beeswax, prep the tubes, stir while it melted and then hold the tubes while I filled (It's hot, we don't want burns!)

I have printable copies for you of a couple of things.

Chapstick Labels (PDF)
The labels- I printed them on standard address labels. They don't stick well if the ingredients are on the tube, so attach them first.

Chapstick Recipe (PDF)
Chapstick Recipe (Word Doc)
One full batch makes about 10 tubes.  

Printable Poster Pages (Word Doc)
Printable Poster Pages(PDF)
(I just printed it on plain paper then attached it to some cute scrapbook paper.)

You can buy the chapstick tubes or lip gloss tubs from one of these sites:

A few notes in case you want to do this activity:

*you could do it with a large group if they are broken down into smaller groups.  They have to move quickly after you fill the tube so the next girl can get in before the stuff cools and has to be remelted.  So you need some space.

*grating the beeswax is what takes the longest in the whole process.  So, plan on that or do it ahead of time.

*make sure the girls keep the tubes upright after filling.  We capped them to prevent spills, but some of the girls laid theirs sideways and I didn't see it.  So it cooled wonky and they have to remelt them so they can get them to work properly.

*adjust the recipe as needed.  If you can find lip gloss containers just use more coconut oil and less beeswax.  If you live somewhere hot don't change it too much.  Coconut oil melts at 76°, so the more you use the less stable your recipe.  You can use any good oils or butters to replace what I used.  I would suggest cocoa butter as a substitute, almond oil instead of jojoba, and if you need to leave out the shea butter no big deal.

*I use doTerra's essential oils.  Frankly, after a ton of research, they are the ONLY EO's I will use.  They are pure, and I have not yet found any others that are. Please do not use any that are from a local store, most of the brands you can pick up off a shelf have 90% or more fillers, and usually those are alcohol.  You DO NOT want the girls licking that!


Gorgeous Neighbor Goodies

Pin It These are so pretty!  I don't have time or the jars to do them this year, but I might do it next year!

Isn't that gorgeous!  Red velvet cake mix and cream cheese "evergreen" frosting!  I love it!  You can find the recipe and instructions here.


Pottery Barn Knock-Off Gone Original

Pin It So another craft we made was supposed to be a Pottery Barn knock-off.  But we ended up changing it around and liked it better a different way.  I think if I had gotten really big letters I would have still made it into a knock off.  But the letters we ended up with, because it was tricky to find the ones we needed, were super huge, nor were they as stack-able as I thought they were.

Original idea can be found here.
I  must say I love all things metal.  And it if is metal with glitter then I am just all the more in love.  My Christmas decor theme is "glitter".  I don't have a set color, because I have color issues.  I love them all.  So I pretty much use glitter to make it all mesh.

We started by laying the letters out, and I didn't like the ones I bought when they were stacked like this original.  They were not proportioned the same way.  So we played around with them, and we decided to leave them in a line, and make them a mantle piece.  Then after prepping another set of words, and more playing, we really like them stacked on top of each other.  So here is what we did, and how.

So this one is my favorite.  I loved the Renaissance Brown with the silver. (It will look fabulous on a fireplace mantle instead of a chair, too.)

 This was the first one we did, and I like the silver better than the gold.  But, I didn't feel much like sanding it and starting over.  So gold and bronzish it is.

We painted them with a few different craft paints.  This one is Gleams Silver, and then we used some tacky glue to "drip" on it and added silver glitter.

This one has gold metallic paint and then gold glitter, done the same way as the silver letters.

To place the letters, we used a straight board to line the bottoms up, then we glued the "NOEL" in place. After it dried I flipped it over and used a staple gun in the back to help them be more sturdy.  (The NOEL letters are actually just chipboard).  The "JOY" letters are wood, and we lined them up the same way, but hot glued them onto the "NOEL".

Pinecone Ornaments

Pin It Well, we accomplished a lot.  I am really excited, mostly because I have new ideas for next year!  So here is how it turned out...

The original idea was found here:
I needed to make it a little cheaper, but I loved the look of these pine cones.  So, I bought paper mache' eggs because they are way cheaper than the styrofoam cones.  I also bought cheaper flowers that didn't have the wire in them, and they worked great!  I used a few leftover silk flowers I found in my basement, too.
Paper Mache' eggs
Metallic Spray Paint (we used both caramel latte' and a brushed nickel, but in the end you could hardly tell them apart)
silk flowers with varying petal sizes
hot glue
wire, wire curler or pliers
beads (1/2 inch, one per egg)

Paper Mache' eggs were cheap.  Small ones (2 inches) were 3/$1, the larger size was 67 cents (about a 5 inch egg)
We spray painted just the end of the egg where it would be showing through.  We left the rest alone.

 We took the flowers apart.  We had a variety of flower types, but found it best to use one type per cone.  The ones with some texture and rounded ends worked best.  We spray painted them and let them dry while we worked on other crafts.  It didn't take too long, even in an unheated basement.

After they were dry we cut them so that each petal was separate.  

 Then we started at the skinny, painted end of the egg, adding one petal at a time, and working around (not top to bottom), we just glued the petals onto the egg.  It took about 3-4 rows for the smaller eggs, and 5-6 for the larger size. 

 After the petals were attached, we finished the larger egg end by just gluing down the petals so they laid flat.  They needed to look nice, but they would be covered up at least partially, by the ribbon and bead.

I cut wire, just heavier craft wire, and bent one end into a "v" shape, about 2 inches from the bottom.  I curled both ends of the wire, one into a cute little curl, the other into the hanger for the ornament.  The "v" bend I pushed through the bead hole, and hot glued it in place.  Then I hot glued that bead to the larger egg end.  After it was set we attached bows to that bead and egg end.

Here is the finished pinecone!


Crafting Day!

Pin It Oh my goodness!  I have been trying so hard to get my two home schooled kiddos done early so we can enjoy a really long Christmas break.  My son only has one lesson and a test left!  So today is officially crafting day!  I am so excited!

I will take my camera with me and try to get pictures.  But here are linkies to the ideas I was going to use:

I think this pinecone ornament is gorgeous!  I am changing it up a bit to make it cheaper, so we'll see how it goes.

I love this star, and there are a few variations.  I forgot to grab some old books though.  So I will not be making this today unless I get back to DI.  It is on my list of things I plan to do, though.

This snowball is so cute and vintage!  I have to make it.  I had quilt batting in my basement waiting for a use!

I think these are gorgeous!  I had trees needing some pruning, so it the weather will hold off for a bit I will see about getting that done!  I have no idea where I will put them, but I want to make them anyway.

And I am going to make a knock off of Pottery Barn's Noel.  I can't resist!


Getting It Together

Pin It Well, the big turkey celebration has come and gone.  I still like my turkeys best.  And I should keep it a secret because I've never even been asked to cook one for the big family dinner.  I hope you all had as much fun with the family as I did.  This was a great year.  I think as my kids get older I really do get to enjoy more.  I don't have to spend time (or as much) checking on their every move, changing diapers, racing potty training kids to the potty, you get my drift.  I miss those days in some ways.  But really, I have so much more fun with the kids the older they get!

So, my goal this week is to finish Christmas cards.  I really should have started that a while ago.  I also need to get my youngest some jammie pants made.  She has announced that all of hers give her wedgies.  So, even though I think she is exaggerating, I will practice my sewing skills on some pants before I tackle something more challenging.

I will post pics as I get those cute cards going. I will probably not post sewing pics as they could be full of me looking really frustrated.

Have a great day!


Holy Giveaway Batman!

Pin It This is the most incredible giveaway I've ever seen!  You can go over to the site and enter, too!

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama (link to: and GameStop (link to: are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What is your holiday wish for your family?

More time as a family, enjoying the time!

2. What is your Christmas morning tradition?

We let the kids sneak into their stockings without us, then they can get us out of bed after 6:30 if we have managed to stay there that long.  We open gifts from Santa, then have the warm, fresh cinnamon rolls that baked while we opened the gifts.  We then open the gifts from the family.  After that we play, and visit relatives.

3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be? 

Actually, I would love a garden tiller for myself.  Or a really big IKEA gift certificate to use in teh basement.

4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money?

 Traditions.  We have special dinners, game nights, seeing lights around the neighborhood, home made hot chocolate and carols or movies.  We enjoy free music concerts and making home made things.

5. What games did you play with your family growing up?

We mostly played sports, and a few card games.  I remember playing "war" for hours.

6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood?

The advent calendar.  I don't do as much as my mom did, I tried and failed.  So I have scaled back this year to a 12 days of Christmas advent calendar.  But I liked the excitement of discovering what we would be doing each day as a family, and I loved those moments together.

7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip?

Hawaii.  No question!  I would LOVE to go to Hawaii, any time of year.

8. Check out GameStop (link to: and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year? 

games for either of those


Coupon Share

Pin It I love Bath & Body Works, had to share this deal!  I only buy things when they are half off or more, and this is a good one!

The Buy 3, Get 3 Free Special is on again!  Use the $10 off $30 Bath and Body Works Coupon or shop online at Bath and Body Works, use code HOLIDAY30 online to get the $10 off your $30 purchase.


Advent Calendar and Count Down pictures

Pin It So I wasn't as quick with the pictures as I planned on.  Home school and meetings will do that to you.  Here are the pictures I took of the advent calendars and the count down calendar.

Advent Calendar 1
(this is on a 12 muffin tin, I plan to put things "to do" in the cups, and I know we won't actually do 24, we've tried that.  So I am doing 12 instead, like the 12 days of Christmas.  This I think I can stick to.)

 I decided to make a few more of these.  I am still deciding whether to use them as gifts or what to do.  But they are really fun to make, and I think they will be a lot of fun for the kids to use!

I made this count down calendar to hang and use for the entire 25 days.  This is a lot more non-committal than the advent calendar!  hahaha  I had a lot of fun making this with all the little doo-dads.  I want to make a few more.  I need to take more pics of the process, but I forgot to do that as I went.  Next time I will put the camera on the table.


Christmas Crafting

Pin It I realize I am not the first to make these advent calendars.  But, this is the first creative spree I've had in a couple of years.  I went back to school to work on my art degree, and that pretty much killed any free time I ever hoped to find.  I have been back at home since summer, but I started home schooling my younger two kids.  And finally, after two months of working on making a schedule that stuck, and missing my free time and seriously, maybe desperately, needing my crafting time, I have finally found a way to make it work!

I have invested in another sewing machine.  I swore I never would.  I actually found a huge relief come from my teen causing my other one to need repairs earlier in the spring.  I was so glad when it happened!  But, that is when you realize how much you use the blasted things for little fixes.  And then I made the mistake of walking through the sewing department at Wal-mart, only looking for some safety pins for a Halloween party.  I walked right by the machines, and they were nicer than my old one, and less than I'd spent on it.  So, I decided it would be *wise* to get a functioning machine again.

I have the machine out of the box, on the table.  I bought fabric, washed it, folded it, set it near the table.  and now I have total anxiety!  I will work myself up to the sewing.  For the time being I am making crafts instead.

This week I have worked on some cute little muffin tin advent calendars, that every stay at home mom has made but me.  And I also crafted some cookie sheet count downs.  My kids were so excited to see me making things again!  How sad they've forgotten what my room used to look like!  I have to keep my area more clean this go around as I am doing everything in my bedroom.  But, the crafting is back,and it makes me so happy!

I will be back to post pictures of the little crafts and the "how-to" in case I am not the only stay at home mom that didn't yet have these little beauties!  First, I really have to get the kids up and moving for school.  Priorities...